Poland Holds Memorial for Crash Victims
Thousands mass as 2 days of mourning begin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 17, 2010 5:58 AM CDT
A Polish girl guide waits for the beginning of a national memorial service in Pilsudski Square on Saturday, April 17, 2010 in Warsaw, Poland.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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(Newser) – Church bells pealed and emergency sirens blared across Poland at 8:56am local time today to mark the minute a week earlier that a plane crashed as it attempted to land in Russia, claiming the life of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 others. Thousands of Poles massed in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square for a public memorial service for the victims. But some world leaders canceled their attendance at a state funeral tomorrow, citing the volcanic ash cloud hanging over Europe.

The bells tolling were a precursor to the giant outdoor memorial later today in Pilsudski Square that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands. The square has been outfitted with large display screens to show the services and oversized photos of the 96 people killed. There will be two minutes of silence starting at 12pm followed by the reading of all 96 victims' names and the playing of the national anthem. A funeral mass will take place afterward. The ceremony is the first of two days of somber ceremonies and will be followed by a funeral mass for the first couple.
 

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